Thursday 23 December 2010

30 - Ken Robertson

Updated re obit (no visitation or service at Ken's request)
The Toronto Sun has lost another Day Oner with the death yesterday of Ken Robertson, a former city editor, WW2 vet, real estate agent, sailor, private eye, trucking firm owner, author and story teller supreme.

Ken, who underwent a major operation last year and battled back for a Remembrance Day release from Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, died there from cancer last night. He was 87.

Today's Toronto Star obit says at Ken's request, there will be no visitation or service. If desired, memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Vernon Kenward Robertson got his start in media prior to WW2 when hired by the Canadian Press to run copy to the Star, Telegram and the Globe. 

"I was the e-mail version of the late thirties," Ken said in his book. "I worked every weekday after school from 4 p.m. to midnight, six nights a week and on Saturdays to 10 p.m. Salary? Seven dollars a week."

Ken freelanced for papers for nine years before hired by the Tely in 1964 as a reporter/photographer. When the Tely folded on Oct. 30, 1971, Ken was one of 62 employees who launched the Toronto Sun on Nov. 1, 1971.

"I still look back proudly on that feat as a miracle," Ken, who left the Sun in 1975 to work in real estate and then the provincial natural resources ministry, said in his book. 

To have known Ken Robertson beyond his many titles, was to have read his 2007 book Windcharm - a dream delayed, which drew readers from around the world and made him an Orillia-area celebrity.

He was thrilled when a tourist from Europe looked him up while on vacation in Canada and told him he had purchased his book in a Paris airport and loved it. 

Ken, a father of two, grandfather and great-grandfather, was working on another book about his Orillia-area retreat, affectionately called Windcharm, when cancer returned him to hospital. 
Memories of Ken Robertson will be posted on TSF (e-mail us.) You can also post comments in the Star's condolences guest book here.

Don McKellar, a longtime friend, said Ken entered hospital on Friday.

"Ken was fortunate to be able to live independently in his home on the Sixth Concession to the very end," says McKellar. "Remarkable man."

Vince Devitt, another longtime friend, tells TSF: "I managed to get to see him for a short visit this summer. He was his usual jovial self, pounding away on his new book.

"I will miss him a whole lot."

This blogger is a property owner, not a renter, thanks to Ken. He was in real estate in 1976 when he called the Sun at 10:30 p.m to tell me about a "doll house" in Etobicoke that would be perfect for a bachelor.

So around midnight, armed with a flashlight, Ken gave me a tour of the one-bedroom house and within the hour we were signing the deal.  That house served me well for 15 years.

We kept in touch over the years and occasional phone calls from Windcharm seldom were brief. When Ken talked about his life, you listened.  

As lives go, Ken's life was full to the brim. We will remember him fondly.

Tally ho, as he would write or say at the end of emails and phone calls, tally ho.

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